Thomm Quackenbush, author

EVP

The dead are talking and they're using our own technology to do so. That's so creepy. As a closed minded skeptic, or whatever that na´ve pseudo-scientist called me, my first inclination is to completely ignore every indication that this science is little more then a creative way to waste both time and money. Then my toaster started talking to me. To be fair, it wasn't the toaster itself, but the ghost which lives inside of my toaster. It sounds strange, I know, and maybe it's a little insane. Sure enough though, if you tip your head at a slight angle and whisper questions, my toaster is capable of intelligent responses.

"What do you think about this whole EVP thing Mr. Toaster?"
"I think it is crap." You know, I couldn't have said it better myself.

EVP (or Electronic Voice Phenomena) is the theory of taking white noise and, after editing it to death, producing your very own message from the dead. How do we know it's a message of the dead? Well, what else could it be? Try just about anything that creates any kind of noise, like the tape recorder you used to record the process in the first place. Add to this the various other elements that surround our daily experience and you too will eventually capture something mysteriously explainable. Okay, you've captured something on tape, now begins the process of editing it. Now, when I edited sounds for a living, my program of preference was Sound Forge. Did I ever discover a sound that defied logic? No. Then again, I was in a sound proof booth surrounded by editing equipment. Maybe in this confined area void of any possibility of outside interference, I'm just not very interesting.

Who takes credit for the original EVP experiment? Well, that would be that nutcase scientist Thomas Edison. To be fair, Thomas Edison portrayed his interest in the field to a clairvoyant in 1967. That's right, he was dead. Therefore, a ghost communicating to a psychic is enough to prove that the dead are capable of communicating the living. Now my distain for psychics {cough} charlatans frauds liars {cough} is well known and, one day when the sun is bright, I'll sit down and explain how that works, but alas, that's a story for another day.

EVP enjoyed a resurgence in the 1980's and again recently with that crap film White Noise. Before you could shoot the audience with a rational bullet, they rushed home and sure enough discovered their own mysterious sounds. Where were all these people when Batman was in the theaters? A bunch of robe-wearing lunatics roaming the streets fighting crime? Now that would've been interesting.

The best thing about EVP is that anyone can do it. However, like any science or horror film genre, there are guidelines. Most of these border on insanity, like thanking the ghost, but some of them actually make a lot of sense.

Selected questions should be asked with at least a 30 second span between them to allow time for replies. It is best to that the questions be prepared in a way that they can be answered by yes or no, or at least words of one syllable.

Are we to believe that ghosts suddenly lose the ability to communicate in multiple syllables? Is Aunt Gertrude, who was smart and witty in life, condemned to Rain Man status in the afterlife? Hilarity ensues when these "scientist" decide to place origin on these voices. Obviously, he said he was dead, and farmer Joe who lived here is dead, therefore the voice is that of dead farmer Joe. Well, it doesn't work that way. Since you've discovered the origin, why not go back and ask them questions about farming. Surely, a farmer who worked the land for years would be capable of answering a simple agriculture question. "What side of the field is better for planting tomatoes if you expect a cold spell?" Follow this inquiry with everyone's favorite one word question, "why?" That'll teach that stupid farmer ghost.

When recording, random locations are not recommended. It is best to take the recorder to a location that you have good reason to feel is haunted. In addition, your EVP experiments should be conducted in the most active spot in the location. This obviously increases your chances for good results.

File this one under the realm of suggestion. Why are ghosts only limited to certain areas? These "energy" beings are capable of passing through walls but not inhabiting the local 7-11. At the very least, by testing random places you are proving that anywhere you go, they'll be some kind of interference not picked up by the human ear. You might even pull a sound out. Wouldn't the owner of the local convenience store love to hear his bread aisle is haunted?

Okay, take everything from the technical side and remove it. After hours of listening to a pop or spike, you've discover editing the click in such a way that you indeed find a word. In a blind rush to prove your ability to capture sound, you label your findings and send it to various sites, which, for a fee, allow you to listen to the works of others. Where's the problem, you ask? Here's a hint: it's in your head. Human imagination will attempt to fill in the blank, allowing what you read as the description to become what you hear. Welcome to the wonderful world of suggestion.

Ghosts might indeed be communicating in one syllable garbed nonsense. Think of it like pay-per-view boxing. You have to pay to play. It's a good thing all these EVP sites offer the equipment you need to contact the dead. Unfortunately, unlike pay-per-view, when the signal goes out, you get your money back. With EVP, when you get home and discover nothing, you get nothing but the satisfaction of wasting your time talking to yourself. Let the buyer beware.

HOW TO PROVE IT TO ME:

Find yourself a haunted area and videotape the whole experience on top of your usual sound capture. Keep the videotape on, showing the hours of editing it takes to produce your sound. Now hand me the tape without telling me what I'm supposed to hear. If I'm able to tell you what the sound is, then you might have something. Then again, you might have faked the whole thing for the sake of a profit, but that never happens. Now excuse me I have to go and read about Angels while watching White Noise.


Stevehen J. Warren is a trained professional in dealing with the crap society churns out. If possible, do not attempt to engage any crap you may find. He mocks it so you don't have to.

If you have a movie, picture, website, friend, game, book, fan fiction, or toilet you would like me to see, or crap all over, please inform your friendly webmaster and include your name and the name of the crappee. The numbers are open and we have trained professionals waiting to receive your call.



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Works by Thomm Quackenbush

Anthologies

Find What You Love and Let It Kill You by Thomm Quackenbush
Pagan Standard Times: Essays on the Craft by Thomm Quackenbush
A Creature Was Stirring: A Twisted Christmas Anthology by Thomm Quackenbush
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On B&N
At Double Dragon